Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cranes and beauty and hope and leukemia

One of my first graders has leukemia.  I knew going into the school year he was diagnosed last April; truth is, I would be lying if I didn't admit right here and right now that my glass half-empty mentality didn't encourage me to promptly start building a wall.  Thing is, I'm so damn busy that the thoughts (positive and negative alike) jump in for a moment and then get taken away by something else within minutes.  Well, it's either that or the daily medication I'm on that ensures I'm on some sort of Cloud 9 for the majority of the day.

Either way....

So what I was saying was that a perk to running this way and that way is that I don't get totally hammered by my own sense of negativity on a constant basis.  Works out pretty well, especially when we're talking about making the mental decision as to whether or not I could handle connecting with a student who I believed could possibly die sooner than later.  I know that sounds shitty, but it's where I was at.  I hear "leukemia", and I think back to the 10,564 books I immersed myself in during my middle school years regarding youth dying from leukemia- and well, let's just say it's not good.  Oh- and Beaches.  Yeah.  Beaches.  That movie ruined me.

Anyway.  Ends up that I was too busy to worry about much.  My student walks in that first day with a scarf wrapped around his lovely little head and charmed me.  CHARMED ME.  Then he started feeling all brave and confident and beautiful and threw that scarf to the side so we could all revel in his baldness.  What a day that was.

A week or so ago he received two boxes full of paper cranes.  It was a gift from someone else who has leukemia.  My student, all full of smiles and silliness, stood in front of the class and declared his new-found love for cranes and humanity:  "The people who made these cranes?  They don't even know me!  And they made these so I could feel hope and make wishes!  1,000 wishes!"

This kid.  Amazing.  Courageous.  Heavy.  Thoughtful.  He's taught me a thing or two about fear and life and trying my hardest to not mix them together.

Thanks for the lesson, kiddo.  You're the best.